Mahalo ULP-30CH Les Paul Ukulele Full Review

11

July 14, 2011 by Tim


Let me start with a little legal junk. This is not a Les Paul uke. The Gibson Les Paul uke does exist and it is not the same as this one. There are subtle differences, and it may kind of look like it in some ways.

Now for real life…this is a Les Paul ukulele. Mahalo made some small changes to the body, but we all know what it is supposed to look like. I think it is funny how Mahalo has had it out for years and Gibson finally just released the Epiphone Les Paul this year.

One of the best parts about being a uke player is that you can afford many more ukes than guitar players can buy guitars, and this one is just fun to own, and it is SUPER cheap. I would buy one just to make it awesomer (Yes, AWESOMER).

Read the review below and at the end I will compare what I know about the Epiphone to this Mahalo and tell you what I would do if I owned it.

Specs:
Soprano : 19
Tuners: Geared Nickel with green buttons
Nut & saddle: Nu Bone
Top: Laminate Maple
Sides: Laminate Maple
Back: Laminate Maple
Neck: Mahogany with a Rosewood fretboard
String Attachment: Tie
Finish: Sunburst and Gloss
Case: Custom shaped gig bag
Full Specs:
http://www.sagamusic.com  – Not on the site currently

Looks

First look: (5) This uke is unique looking in so many ways. I love the sunburst finish and the fact it looks like a Les Paul with the body shape, tuners and trapezoid fret markers (Something the Epiphone version does not have)

Fit and Finish: (4) Far from perfect, but this is a cheap uke and it is amazing that they are able to make it so cheap. It has some cosmetic issues like discoloring in the binding, but overall it is built fine. I wish they would use a lower and less chunky bridge. The bridge on it is too tall and they needed to bring the saddle down a lot to make the strings low.

Sound:

Sound Type:  I would liken it to any laminate uke. A little muted with very little depth to the sound.

Intonation: (3) Not awesome, but to be expected. Beyond the 7th fret it gets a little off as you go down. I think it is funny that they have a compensated saddle; you would expect it to be better than it is.

Volume: (4) Not a screamer. It puts out sound well enough. I would put a cheap pickup in it any ways.

Sustain: (4) Not super long, but it lasts long enough to not seem lacking.

Feel:

String Height: (Medium) Playable. Not much room for improvement.

Neck Radius Depth: (3/4″) Basic C shaped neck.

Frets: (5) Bound fretboards make it much easier for the builder to not mess up and have frets sticking out the side. The frets are nice and low.

Tuning: (5) I am normally a traditionalist when it comes to what tuners should be on a uke, but for a rocking one like this I have to say they nailed it with the jade green knobbed geared tuners. They are almost just like the old LP guitars that you see from the 60’s. Good choice, and work well to boot.

Comfort: (5) With the width of the neck being the same from nut to 19th fret it feels nice and wide. Usually the neck is narrower at the nut and widens as it gets closer to the body. Also the nice finish makes the edges nice and rounded off. I think that with a pickup it would add the needed strap button to make it easier to rock out.

Sound Hole Smell: Elmers Glue

Final Thoughts

I have 2 thoughts on this. The first is that I would say this would be a good uke to start with if you have never played an instrument before. It plays fine and it is fun and very rock and roll.

The other side is that I would get one of these as a project uke. In so many ways I wish I could take stuff from the Mahalo and the Epiphone and make the perfect Les Paul ukulele. The Mahalo had the right trapezoid fret markers, along with the right tuner buttons. It is missing the right head stock, pick guard, and a pickup. The headstock is not doable, but the pick guard and pickup are. I would buy THIS pickup and then just make a pick guard from some thin vinyl. I might also see if I could come up with a different bridge since the one on it is a little clunky.

Epi v. Mahalo

I would say that it is worth the $52 no matter what. With enough distortion (After you put a pickup in it) it will sound awesome.

All Rating on a scale of 1-5
Click here for an explanation of reviews

First Look 5
Fit and Finish 4
Sound Type A little muted
Intonation 3
Volume 4
Sustain 4
String Height Medium
Neck Radius Depth 3/4″
Frets 5
Tuning 5
Comfort 5
Sound Hole Smell Elmers Glue

Places to buy on the web:

Amazon $52

HD Audio Sample:

Gallery:

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11 thoughts on “Mahalo ULP-30CH Les Paul Ukulele Full Review

  1. P.J. says:

    Sounds pretty good! Thanks for the review.

  2. Bonita says:

    Sounds great for a $52 uke.

  3. Joni says:

    I have said it once and i will say it again. I think it is dumb when a ukulele tries to look like a guitar. Beyond the novelty aspect, I just don’t understand the point. I am a bit snobbish in that respect, I suppose. It would make a nice gift for a teen who might otherwise turn up his nose at a ukulele, I suppose. But, give me a traditional little soprano uke any day.

  4. Paul says:

    Yeah I have one and like it except mine musta had a dried out fretboard because the frets were hurting me on the edges. I shoulda sent it back to get another one. I wonder about the electrics they make too lol. You could also review the telecasters!

  5. Stephen says:

    I really like these, a bargain too.

  6. S.R. says:

    I’ve been playing a Mahalo for a while (not the Les Paul copy, but a U-30) and for a cheap ukulele it’s not half bad. I’d like to try something a little bigger, though, so I’ll probably be upgrading to an entry level Kala or Lanikai pretty soon.

  7. Daryl says:

    I have the Mahalo Telecaster and love it. My Epi Les Paul is due to arrive tomorrow via UPS, I will keep you posted. This Mahalo Les Paul is on my “to do soon” list too!

  8. Karl says:

    They are available with a pickup. Both the Mahalo LP and Tele versions are available with pickups.

  9. Karl says:

    Folks that complain about the sharp edges on the frets have a right to complain. These come from the factory with frets that are not setup. If you buy from a good source they will setup the action and remove the rough edges from the frets.
    Unfortunately, there are folks selling ukuleles that have no idea of how to play a ukulele, much less how to set them up and get the best out of even an inexpensive ukulele. These are nice ukes for the money. They should however be setup. I setup and play all the ukes that I sell. I would rather play a less expensive uke that is setup than a more expensive uke that has not been setup.

  10. I simply adore the colour scheme on this Definitely beautiful!

  11. John says:

    This review is very helpful. My first uke was a cheap Mahalo soprano and since have added some nicer ones. I can see getting this one as a project and modify it much in the ways you mention. Good blog, thanks!

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